Thursday 6 October 2016, 7.30pm
Parr Hall, Tickets £25
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Wilko Johnson is feeling more alive than ever, despite a terminal cancer diagnosis, and he’s bringing his new zest for life to Warrington.
The singer and guitarist’s unique playing style, his black-suited, scowling look, and the yards he covered across the stage in Feelgood, the Solid Senders and Ian Dury’s The Blockheads will be resurrected at Parr Hall on 6 October with special quest Aaron Keylock.
In a recent interview Wilko said: “I’m supposed to be dead.”
But despite the doctor’s worst predictions he continues to perform with vigour claiming “there’s nothing like being told you’re dying to make you feel alive”.
He could have been a retired teacher by now but was lured into music by his first Telecaster soon after becoming the strutting, grimacing, six-string rhythmic powerhouse behind Lee Brilleaux in Dr Feelgood.
Wilko and his bandmates were in the vanguard of the pub rock movement, performing gutsy down-to-earth rock and roll many viewed as a welcome antidote to the faltering prog-rock era.
Heavily influenced by legendary guitarist Mick Green from 60s rockers Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, Wilko employs a finger-style, chop-chord strumming action (the ‘stab’, as he describes it). This allows for chords and lead guitar to be played at the same time, giving fluency and a distinctive sound very unlike the cleaner swat of a pick.
With this economic sound, coupled with that black-suited, scowling look, and the yards he covered across the stage pausing only to twist the guitar lead out from under his feet, Wilko became one of the guitar heroes of the era.
His influence was felt in bands up and down the country, and later in the emergent punk revolution (Joe Strummer of the Clash bought a Telecaster after seeing Wilko play).
Feelgood had four successful albums in Wilko’s time, and then followed a busy creative period playing in an early incarnation of the Wilko Johnson Band, the Solid Senders, before he joined Ian Dury’s band The Blockheads, in 1980.
All through the 80s, 90s and into the new millennium he continued to gig in the UK, Europe and Japan. But it was when Julien Temple’s award-winning Oil City Confidential came out in 2009, with Wilko emerging as the film’s star, that the world once again sat up and paid attention to his extraordinary talent.
His career took another twist in 2010, when he was offered an acting part in the hit series Game of Thrones, playing the role of mute executioner Ilyn Payne.
He appeared in 4 episodes shown in 2011 and 2012, and later explained: “They said they wanted somebody really sinister who went around looking daggers at people before killing them. That made it easy. Looking daggers at people is what I do all the time.”